2018 Best NOLA Dad Finalists

2018 Best NOLA Dad Finalists

We received some amazing submissions for this year’s Best NOLA Dad campaign … nominated by wives, fiancés, daughters, sons, sisters, and friends … all who have made a difference in the lives of others and who motivate and inspire those around them. It was a very difficult task, and we really wish we could name everyone nominated Best NOLA Dad, but we were finally able to narrow the nominations down to the top 10 finalists.

A team of objective judges will determine the Best NOLA Dad from the top 10 finalists below, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, June 10th!

Top 10 Finalists

Eric Pessin

{Nominated by :: Kaleigh Pessin} Eric should win the Best NOLA Dad award for many reasons, but the quality that stands out the most is his compassion and drive to give his children everything they deserve. Eric and I were blessed with twin boys after struggling for many years with infertility. Our boys were born at 29 weeks and that began our rollercoaster ride. We spent months in the NICU and PICU with the twins, and Eric never missed a beat. He worked full time to support our family and made time everyday to be at the boys’ bedside. Not only was he at the bedside, he was hands on in every aspect of their care. This man had never changed a diaper before the boys were born, and suddenly he was changing diapers on micro preemies, feeding through Gtubes, administering meds and reading vitals. He is truly a Great Dad, and our children are so lucky to have him! We love you, Daddy!

Mike Harmon

{Nominated by :: Brittany Harmon} Picture the guy running back and forth on the sideline, a man sitting on the bathroom floor determined to learn how to put pig tails in his little girl’s hair, the all in…I’ll never give up on you even when you give up on you type of dad. Well, that’s my husband. He is our sons’ hero and the beat of our daughter’s heart, all while being my best friend. I cannot think of someone more deserving than this dad. He works shift work and crazy hours yet he refuses to miss a single event, big or small, in the lives of our children. He is the dad that on the last day of school rallied the younger siblings on the front porch to cheer and shout for their big brother as he exited the bus. He is the one that wakes up after a night shift with only 2 or 3 hours of sleep just so that HE can be the one to drive our youngest to the sitter. Because if he can squeeze in even a few minutes of extra time with them, it’s more than worth it to him. Mike Harmon is the kind of dad that I wish I had when I was a child. He is all that is good in a man and what this world needs more of.

Michael Palmisano

{Nominated by :: Julie Palmisano} Michael and I met about 4 years ago. From the moment he walked into my life he immediately bonded with and stepped in as a father to my 3 children while never missing a beat with being an amazing father to his young daughter. Today we are married and Michael has adopted my 3 children and they are now ours. He amazes me every day with the dedication and love that he has for our family. My children came from a background with an abusive biological father and Michael healed all the wounds that were emotionally inflicted and has offered these children a whole family with a father that I could never say enough good about. Not one of the 4 children are ever neglected nor do any ever miss those special moments and bonds that only a father can provide. This man saved all of us and has dedicated himself to our family. He is a hard working, smart, dedicated, loving, wonderful father and he deserves more than anything in the world to be recognized for his selfless love and commitment. This man has ensured that 4 little people will never want for anything in the world and will grow up knowing they are supported, important, and loved. I am in absolute awe of this man and thank God every everyday that he was placed in our lives. We are beyond blessed and would love for him to have some recognition for being the wonderful father that he is.

John Meche

{Nominated by :: Charlee} John is the father of six, yes you read correctly, SIX kids nine and under. This man wakes up every morning at five O’ clock to make everyone breakfast, hold the baby, and do a load of dishes and laundry so that we can all start our day smoothly. He sends me away on Saturdays to grocery shop or meet a friend while he works on the yard, and insists on keeping all six kids. If you call it babysitting, he will correct you and remind you, they are his kids too! John’s dad left when he was two, and he was raised by his mom and grandmother with limited resources, so many of the things he does with our kids is his first foray into things. He signed our three oldest up for ball, and eagerly learns from the coach how to teach his sons the things he was not able to participate in himself. His first Mardi Gras parade was with one child on his shoulders, and another in a sling. You’d better believe he chases those floats for his babies to get exactly what they want! John is the kindest, most selfless person I have ever known. He puts everyone else before him and rarely takes time for himself. He reads to our kids, wrestles with the boys, braids hair for the girls (he is better at it than me!!!), and spends hours pouring over how to provide the best he can for our family. I may sound partial as his wife, but I can promise you that many would tell you that John is one of the best fathers they know. Let me know if you need a reference 😉!!

Ryan Plaisance

{Nominated by :: Kim Plaisance} My husband Ryan is the most loving, selfless dad that I know. I love how he is a constant example of what a dad should be for our two boys. My nine year old is always saying how he wants to be just like his dad when he grows up. Here is the essay that he wrote for his dad:

My Best Dad

I think my dad is the best dad in New Orleans because he plays baseball with me and my brother. We love to do math and spelling. I got good grades with his encouragement and four awards too. We go in the pool and dad throws me far and I like it. His name is Ryan and I love his unique name. We play different games all the time. He works so hard for me and my family. He cooks yummy food for me and my family. He works at Entergy on the computer. He has showed me what it means to be a great dad some day. I love my dad so so much. ~Aiden Plaisance

Please consider Ryan for this award. He shows my boys every day how we are partners in life. There are no gender roles in this household and he is quick to show his kids that a man can cook, clean, wash clothes, do chores, and have fun with his family. He is our rock and deserves to be recognized!

John Guidry

{Nominated by :: Erin Guidry} In addition to tending to all my needs during my pregnancy—including attending every single midwife appointment—and serving as my birth coach during a harrowing 41 hour labor, my husband John has supported me in every possible way since the birth of our son Emmett. I was already beginning to show signs of postpartum depression when my father was rushed suddenly to the ER in my hometown just 10 days after I gave birth (and just 3 days before we were set to visit him and my mother for Christmas and introduce them to their grandson). He had slipped into a coma-like state and for the next few weeks, we traveled back and forth between New Orleans and Alabama to be with my family, spending days at a time in the hotel adjoining the hospital…and all with a newborn baby in tow. He took care of our son in shifts as I sat with my father in the ICU, trying to find a way to prepare myself for goodbye. He passed away on the eve of my son’s one month birthday.

Dealing with the pressure and stress of new parenthood combined with the grief of losing a parent is something I could never have imagined. On top of this, I struggled to establish breastfeeding and our son struggled with sleep and digestion issues. I was burning the candle at both ends and not in great shape. But through it all, my husband supported me. He woke up with me for every night feeding, if only to hold my hand or rub my shoulders. He would sit up with the baby when he was fussy so I could get a head start on sleep. He held me up at my father’s funeral and in the weeks and months after, when all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and never come out.

We had always planned to be parents, but our son was an early surprise, as we weren’t yet trying to get pregnant. Fatherhood was foisted on him sort of suddenly and with a host of complicating factors, but he has handled it with the utmost grace and enthusiasm. His love for our son so often stops my heart in its tracks. He is the most dedicated and involved father and I can’t wait to see their relationship grow (or to hopefully add another child to our family in the coming years). He hates the limelight, but deserves all the recognition possible for the amazing job he has done in this most exciting, terrifying, heartbreaking year of our lives.

Kendrick Hawkins Sr.

{Nominated by ::Renell Hawkins} This dad deserves to win because he is an awesome dad to our 7 children one being his step daughter. He works 2 jobs that he goes to from 7 am and doesn’t return until sometimes 1 am Monday through Thursday. During Christmas he also picks up a job at the Christmas tree lot. He hardly gets a chance to see the children . When he comes in from work he will go into each room while they are asleep give kisses and just sometime stands and looks at them. On his days off he will cook his special pancakes for brunch because he is so exhausted he wake up late. Some evenings he even cooks dinner if he doesnt have to go to his second job. I am a stay at home momma and on the weekends he lets me sleep in and have a little break. He will also leave work to attend parent teacher conferences and after school events. During baseball season he rushed home from work to see what he could of the game and some days left the games and went to his second job. He does everything he can to make sure the kids have what they need even if he has to go without. Some days our oldest who is his step daughter would ask for money and he would give her his last that he had left for lunch that day without hesitation. So many days I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to fine him asleep at the table after finishing his dinner . He is really great at what he does and this would be an awesome honor for him because he is the best NOLA dad I have ever met .

Andrew (Andy) Allain

{Nominated by :: Cailin Allain} My husband, Andy, deserves to win this year’s Best NOLA Dad award for many reasons, but the primary one is his enormous heart. Andy and I have two daughters, Genevieve (18 months) and Josephine (9 weeks), and although he works sixty to seventy hours per week, he ensures the remaining hours are spent with his family. Using his best Yat accent, he reads “Goodnight NOLA” to our girls every night (and changes the line from “good night to the fishes and the animals too” to “goodnight to the fishies and they all asked for you!”). Snoball dates are a common occurrence for Andy and Genevieve–their favorite is Nectar Cream, stuffed. Andy is overjoyed with his little girls; he refers to them as his “best friends.” He throws a mean tea party, and it’s not uncommon to find his legs sticking out of the sparkly pink tent in our living room. He is the planner of adventures and the steady calm to our children; when Daddy is home, there is no such thing as being bored, and cuddles are available in abundance.
Andy makes time to call his Momma at least three times a week, just to chat and catch up, like any good New Orleans boy would. He is available at the drop of a hat to help his mother—whether it is moving items out of the attic, visiting his Meme, or helping out with housework.
He is an amazing husband. There are so many moments in our marriage I could rave about, but the most recent way he has loved and honored me involved the birth of our second daughter, Josephine. He supported my decision to have a VBAC, and he became my advocate and fighter. Andy spent hours researching and learning in order to help me achieve my dream.
In less than two years, Andy has become one of the top financial advisors with Thrivent Financial. Thrivent is a Fortune 500 non-for-profit organization, which supports thousands of charitable activities every year. On any given weekend, you can find my husband serving others, like passing out Halloween candy to the students at Good Shepherd School, or sorting through donations at the Christian Community Concern Center in our neighborhood. This week he is busy volunteering at Camp Pelican, a summer camp for children with pulmonary diseases and disorders, as he has every year for the past decade. One of his biggest passions is serving women and children in need; as such, he works closely with our local Pregnancy Crisis Center by providing financial assistance, collecting donations, and is currently in the process of repairing and donating an ultrasound machine.
Through his employer, Andy provides free workshops to local churches and families in order to empower them with financial knowledge and resources. He educates locals on social security, budgeting, insurance, and other valuable information on his own time, for free, without compensation.
For all of these reasons, and many more, please consider Andy for Best NOLA Dad 2018!

Joshua Woolery

{Nominated by :: Amanda Woolery} I want to nominate my husband Joshua Woolery. He is an amazing step-father to my daughter Stella. Not sure how I can only do this in less than 500 words, but I will try. He first came into my daughter’s life when I was unexpectedly out of commission from neck surgery in 2013. We had been dating for over a year at this point, and I did not want to introduce her so quickly to another man at such a young age. Well boy did he step up to the plate! He would play with her and help feed her during that first week after my surgery and immediately a bond started. The next year, we were engaged and married. He began to pick her up from school on the days that she was with us so she wouldn’t have to go to aftercare. I always felt bad that he was doing that, but his response to me was always, “She is my daughter, and I want to do this.” I couldn’t believe that this man came into our lives and loved my daughter as if she was his own. Over the past 4 years, the two of them have become “gold” as I always say. He takes her shopping A LOT!! She has more slime than any other child I know!! The past 2 years have been harder with homework (which she continues with Straight A’s) and more demands with school and dancing life. I will come home from work, and he will have her fed, homework done and ready for dancing. Somehow he also manages to pick up my mother from dialysis a few days a week and do all of these things with Stella! Also this year, we have been having some sleeping issues at night. She is waking up at night and having a hard time to go to sleep. It has been very frustrating at times, and my husband handles it so calmly and collectively. For the past few months, he has actually been the one to put her to bed at night and help her with falling asleep. My 9 year old and I can both be stubborn people and, sometimes we clash. LOL. Since he has been helping her with going to bed at night, we have started to see a difference in her and her sleeping habits. She is sleeping better and getting more rest. The relationship with them is so beautiful. She tells me all the time that she loves him and is so comfortable with him. He comforts her when she gets upset, which can be a lot with 9 year old girls. We recently went to Disney World, and I am not a fan of the fast rides. Well he went on all of the rides with her, and they had a blast!!! We have been unable to have children of our own, and I always feel sad for my husband that he does not have a child of his own. When we realized that we were not going to be able to have children, he said that Stella was his daughter in every way possible minus DNA. My husband is the manager for a family painting business that is in New Orleans called Woolery Painting. They have done numerous hotels and businesses around the city such as the Royal Sonesta Hotel and The Lakefront Airport. I could write a book about why my husband is the Best Nola Dad!

Victor Daigle

{Nominated by :: Allison Buquoi} We are a blended family. He has two daughters of his own and I have one. Our girls are very close in age. He has gone above and beyond for our girls. He welcomed us into his home when we had no where else to go. We have come so far and made a life together over these past 4years. He gets up extra early everyday to pack lunches make breakfast and get everyone off to school before work since I have to work so early he does it all by himself. He cooks and cleans and has so much patience when it comes to correcting and guiding our kids. He always makes time for our girls and our extended family. He plays a significant role as a father figure to our godchild and his sister ever since their dad past away last year. He is so amazing in so many ways. He lets the girls paint nails and do make up and hair and turns around and wrestles with the our godson. Best dad I could ever wish to have for our girls and I love him so much more for stepping up when he was needed in our friends lives.

Not only will the winner be named the 2018 Best NOLA Dad, but he will also win the fabulous prize package giveaway valued over $500 including:

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